NLA researchers are investigating the influence of the quality of the human microbiome on the development of age-related dementia

February 18, 2019

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a chronic neurodegenerative disorder characterized by progressive memory loss, drastic changes in personality and behavior, and in the latter stages the patients are unable to carry even simple daily activities. There is evidence that AD might be associated with bacteria residing in our intestine. In this regards, researchers from Nazarbayev University have begun studying the composition of the intestinal microbiome of patients diagnosed with AD. Similar studies are being conducted in the United States and in China.

As part of our study, samples of intestinal flora were collected from elderly people diagnosed with AD and mentally healthy individuals. ‘We are looking for a correlation between the composition of intestinal microflora and AD, as a potential marker for early diagnosis of this disease’ – reports Sholpan Askarova, a Leading researcher and the Head of the Laboratory of Bioengineering and Regenerative Medicine, National Laboratory Astana.

Until recently, it was believed that intestinal microbiome is involved in processes such as fermentation of carbohydrates, synthesis of vitamins, xenobiotic metabolism occurring exclusively in the intestines, and acts as a barrier to pathological bacteria. However, over the past 15 years, the functions of the intestinal microbiome have been revised. A direct relationship has been established between density and the composition of intestinal microflora with the development of a number of pathologies such as diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular diseases, which, in turn, are known risk factors for the development of AD.

It has been established that age, lifestyle, diet as well as place of residence play a big role in intestinal microfloral composition – comments Almagul Kushugulova, Leading researcher and the Head of the Laboratory of Human Microbiome and Longevity, National Laboratory Astana.

Data obtained from the study of laboratory animals suggest that bacteria that colonize the intestine can negatively impact the function of nerve cells and contribute to the development of AD. Clinical studies conducted at Chongqing Medical University (China) and the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center (Wisconsin Alzheimer’s disease Research Center, USA) confirm these findings.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that the incidence of age-related dementia worsens every year and projects that by the year 2050 there will be a three-fold increase in the number of AD patients. AD affects approximately 10% of people aged between 65-75 years and 32% of the elderly aged 80 years and above. There is currently no accurate data in Kazakhstan on the number of elderly people suffering from dementia. However, based on the world statistical data and considering the population of Kazakhstan, it can be stipulated that not less than 200 000 elderly people could suffer from age-related dementia.